Quick wins blind manufacturers to long term energy savings

The Works Management Energy Report 2013 reveals that when it comes to saving electricity costs, some 70 per cent of manufacturers intend to make energy savings by switching off unnecessary lights, with 67 per cent intending to invest in more energy efficient lighting.

Although easy to achieve, this focus on lighting costs is blinding manufacturers to the much more substantial savings that can be achieved with energy efficient motors and variable speed drives.

Making compressed air use more efficient was also favoured by manufacturers. John Guthrie, energy manager for ABB’s drives and controls business in the UK said, ‘Reducing lighting costs is always worthwhile, but the real savings are achieved by reducing energy use within manufacturing processes.’

The survey reveals that many manufacturers are still not aware that motor driven applications account for some 65 per cent of all electricity use in industry. Yet, only 10 per cent of these applications have an efficient method of speed control to match motor speed with process demand. Targeting these energy intensive applications, like pumps, fans and compressors is the way to make substantial long term cuts in energy bills.

‘Most companies can save thousands of pounds worth of electricity and some can even save hundreds of thousands of pounds by upgrading existing industrial processes, often at comparatively low cost,’ said Guthrie.

Some 72 per cent of respondents to the survey have seen their energy costs rise this year, a figure that is 12 per cent up on last year. Fifteen per cent have seen a rise of 10 per cent or more and a third have seen a rise of between five and nine per cent.

‘The potential energy savings in industry are staggering. Realising these savings could help to substantially reduce CO2 emissions. However, once again, our survey suggests people are looking for savings in the wrong places and need to look beyond the obvious if they are to make a lasting difference to their costs,’ Guthrie concluded.

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